AART architects have won the competition for a significant residential and commercial development in the heart of the new port district of Aarhus in Denmark. The architects have won the competition together with property developer Bricks, based on the idea of creating a benchmark for the further development of Aarhus, so that the new port district will be to the joy and benefit of all Aarhus citizens.
With their winning proposal for Nicolinehus, AART architects merge the pulse of the city centre with life on the waterfront. All with a focus on injecting life and authenticity into the new port district and to pave the way for the unique opportunities the setting provides – out there where the city encounters the bay. Thus, Nicolinehus draws inspiration from the old residential blocks of the city centre, rethinks the concept of a courtyard framed by flats and adapts it to suit the life and weather conditions of the waterfront. The result is a hybrid of classic residential block and terraced landscape, in which function and aesthetics merge into a new entity.
The encounter between the rigid structure of the square and the staggered surfaces of the terraced landscape creates a visionary architectural work – open and vibrant, and with views aplenty, where people will live their lives in courtyards and roof gardens, and on balconies. Divided into a residential and a commercial section, and sloping down to the marina and the harbour swimming bath, Nicolinehus opens up round two courtyards, while the roof gardens provide views for residents and workers. In other words, it was the view that shaped the architecture, creating an unobstructed vista to all points of the compass and the unique environment: the verdant woodland of Riis Skov, the old marina and the historical city centre.
Besides the shape of the old residential blocks, Nicolinehus has also drawn inspiration from their materials – the red bricks. Brick lends a special texture to the building and has been processed in different ways to invest the façade with life and personality. For example, on the staircases the brick has been perforated to allow daylight in and to make the staircases stand out outwardly, while in other places it protrudes like bay windows. This is modern architecture with a flair for craftsmanship. This is architecture created to look as beautiful in the future as it looks today. It is resilient and tough and will withstand the weather conditions on the waterfront.